Yesterday I bought this Blanket Flower (Gallardia Fanfare ) plant at a nursery from the 50% sale rack. $2.50 for a 2 quart plant. I immediately knew it was root bound by the light weight of the container. When a plant is all roots, there is less room for soil so it will feel light in weight. Even after watering, the container stays light as it has no soil to hold the moisture. You might also see roots growing out the bottom of the container.
No worries! Root bound plants are not destined for death in your garden. It is rather an opportunity for you to save it! Here is my Blanket Flower right out of the store container:
Notice all the white roots growing in a circular pattern. When roots can no longer grow down they will grow around. If you planted this in your garden/pot without trimming it first, the roots will continue to grow circularly, thereby limiting the oxygen to the roots and this plant will most likely die.
1. Cut off densely bound roots with a pair of clippers. I cut off about 2 inches of this plant as it was seriously bound. Cutting roots will not harm a plant.
2. Untangle remaining roots with your hands, breaking the circular nature of the growth.
3. Choose a pot or garden space that is bigger than the original container (2 quarts in this case). This plant obviously needs more space to grow to its full potential!
4. Spread the roots gently when planting. Plant no deeper than the top of the root ball.
Ideally, you want to buy plants that are not root bound. This is often the case, however, when plants have sat at a nursery for awhile.
The future is bright for this Gallardia. Notice it has four buds on it!